Just when we thought Hero MotoCorp is never going to learn to make entry-level models any more modern and appealing, they managed to do just that with the new Hero Splendor iSmart.
As for modern, they shoved a first of its kind feature (considering Indian motorcycles) into the lowest product in the pyramid of motorcycles, and gave it new body graphics that also makes the bike more appealing. Voila, a new model was born, in the name of Hero Splendor iSmart.
As smart as it is named, so does it look and perform. In the looks department, the new Splendor iSmart is ditto Splendor NXG which was launched in 2007 as a generation ahead of Splendor Pro. The NXG didn’t take off nearly as much as the iconic Pro model sells a month, as it had nothing but new looks.
In March, 2014, Hero MotoCorp launched the iSmart variant adding a new feature called i3S to the NXG, but continued to offer the latter. Last month, reports emanated stating Splendor NXG has been taken off the shelf as it didn’t sell as expected, and it comes unnecessarily between the Splendor Pro and new iSmart, with marginal price difference with the other two. And the discontinuation has been confirmed.
So, the new Hero Splendor iSmart is nothing but Splendor NXG with an extra functionality and new looks. Delving into the new i3S technology, the term stands for idle stop and start system. This feature does not need much explanation as it is quite common with modern cars. The idea is to save fuel while halting at traffic signals, railway crossing or the like, but making the bike automatically turn ignition off while on rest and turn it back on without requiring extra effort by the rider.
It works like this, you stop a Splendor iSmart at a red light, shift to neutral and leave the clutch lever. In five seconds, the bike will tun itself off, provided the i3S switch on right-side switchgear is left on. When the light turns green, the rider can pretend the motorcycle is on and just pull the clutch to shift to first gear. As soon as he grabs the clutch lever, the bike will start automatically, mostly even before the time it takes to pull the clutch to full extent.
This might sound silly to some, but this technology, though it does not have direct influence over the bike’s average fuel efficiency (mileage), helps save significant amount of fuel in the tank, enabling longer run for every fill. Further, it reduces negative impact (air pollution) on the environment, which is something people should take very seriously.
To give a quick insight into them, the engine is smooth and has great low-end and mid-range pull. Max power of 7.8 PS @ 7,500 rpm and peak torque of 8.04 Nm @ 4,500 rpm, is produced by 97.2 cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine, mated to 4-speed gearbox.
From the engine as well as certain attachments, there is notable vibration at high speeds, which would not be experienced during commuting in dense city traffic. Suspension is mediocre, meaning, it performs well on smooth & flat roads, but is only fair on irregular surfaces. The bump reaches the rider and it is the extra soft seat cushion that absorbs most undulations instead of the suspension.
Braking is adequate while riding within city speed limits, but is not going to save the day when an impromptu situation arises a few feet ahead, even while riding solo. Optional disc brake could have been offered for those who would like to pay a little extra for safety. The 80/100 tires on 18 inch wheels are grippy and are capable of rolling safely over unusual, muddy and wet roads.
Overall, at ex-showroom New Delhi price of Rs. 50,000 for self start + spoke wheel and Rs. 51,100 for self start + alloy wheel, Hero Splendor iSmart would be a smarter choice for commuters than the Splendor Pro, given the price difference between top end iSmart and low end Pro is less than Rs. 5,000 only.